Many people think Latin America is the same as South America, but it is not correct though South America is Latin America. Latin America is a broader term covering South America, Central America, Mexico and a part of the Caribbean islands that predominantly speak Spanish.There are 20 countries and 14 dependent territories in Latin America while South America has 13 countries, out of which I was fortunate to visit 9. In this blog, I will write about the Latinos of South America. My first visit to the continent was in 2007, with a trip to São Paulo, Brazil, and the last one I did was in 2019 to Peru and Paraguay.
The most fascinating aspect about the South Americans is that they love their lives. Well, all the peoples of the world ought to love their lives. But there is something special when I say the South Americans love their lives. Here, people do not throw away their lives just for any cause. Have we ever heard of self-immolation or people blowing themselves up for any cause in South Africa? No. We see these kinds of self-destruction in Asia as a mark of protests for the causes people support. This love for life is also manifested in their lifestyles: the carnival spirit of the Brazilians; easy-going nature of the Ecuadorians; warm and good-heartedness of the Peruvians and liveliness of the Bolivians are some examples of this passionate love for life.
There are many definitions for honesty, and the one I like: Honesty is the principle of telling truth. The South Americans are straight and honest people. I experienced this both in my personal and professional interactions with them. Even when I sent a commercial offer titled as the best offer, I used to keep 5% as a negotiation element. Later on, I learnt from my South American customers that when they saw the best offer, they logically interpreted it as the best one they could get from me. But I was not honest when I said the offer was the best offer. It was an eye-opening incident for me, and I learnt the lesson that honesty does not have space to pad truth.
Honesty is not only telling truth but also not selectively hiding part of truth. I was floored by awe to experience the innate willingness of my South American customers to share all details of their business, including profitability, though I did not demand such details. Personally also, I experienced their honesty and forthright character. I will explain this with an example. I had noticed many Asians, including the Indians, have a habit of telling someone, who is waiting for them, that they will arrive in, say, 10 minutes even when they knew very well that they would not be able to reach in 10 minutes. But the South Americans do not do this, they are punctual to what they promised to be punctual, a sign of honesty. They are also straight in their dealings, and we do not have to do any kind of discounting or scaling up to arrive at correct judgment about what they say — no hoodwinking or lying or padding up of what they say.
The peoples of South America are friendly and do welcome visitors with a warm hug and pecks on the cheeks – in Paraguay it is only one peck. A very noticeable aspect is that there exists a heartening, seamless bond among the peoples of the continent, who hold goodwill for neighbors — the Chileans talk good about the Brazilians or the Peruvians saying nice things about the Colombians. In each country, there are roads or city centers named after neighboring countries — an Avenida Brazil in Lima, Peru; an Avenida Lima in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Food is South America has a wider plate, with the Peruvian cuisines being the best one. One interesting aspect about food of this region is that it, unlike Indian food, hardly uses oil in its making, resulting that we can savor the taste of dishes with their ingredients in their natural flavors. In India, we use much oil in food, and in that process, we miss out the natural flavors of many ingredients — oil partially takes ingredients off their natural flavors and gives different taste — as well as it makes us more prone to high rate of heart ailments. Recently, I read the Indians are genetically prone to heart-attacks, it might be because of our food habits over thousands of years.
Most counties in South America have re-planned their city-roads to provide cycle-tracks, thereby reducing carbon footprints! Life seems to be happy and eventful — in Brazilian terms: carnival spirit — with a hard-working week and a partying weekend. Discotheques will be packed on weekends, and they dance well with rhythmic movements; it is a visual treat to watch them dancing – the Peruvians and the Ecuadorians are the best on dancer floors. In all these countries, there are public squares and parks at the city centers where people throng during weekends, with festivities like music extravaganza, dance performances, painting exhibitions, makeshift eateries, etc. In many cases, respective municipalities organize such events as a part of giving people feel-good weekends. If you happen to visit any South American city like Lima, which has the Kennedy Park as the public square for weekend festivities; or Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where Plaza 24 de Septiembre is the city square, plan your trip in such a way that you will be in the city during weekend.
Weather patterns have moderate thresholds: winter and summer do not go extreme. I have been traveling to South America for the last 12 years and had never experienced any safety and security problem. Many a time, I ventured out at night without having any problems. Try to stay at the city centers which are safer and lively. Well, almost all the cites have got certain pockets where one should not go to at night. Apart from this common narrative, I found the South American cities safe and secure. In your lifetime if you have time and money, you should make a trip to South America, a world of different life, culture, lifestyles, peoples, food and wholesomeness. Two out of the New 7 Wonders of the world are in South America: Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru, and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro Brazil – I was fortunate to visit both. Colombia has got beautiful mountains; Rio’s Copacabana beach; seaside Guayaquil city of Ecuador; and many such beautiful places you will love to be in.
Notwithstanding the work, I enjoyed the days whenever I visited South America. I have only pleasant memories of South America! If I were given an option of rebirth, I would ask God to give me a berth for my birth in South America.